MANY RECORDS pay tribute to lost loves and departed friends, but Portland shoegaze three-piece Haste’s debut full-length, Annabelle, is named for someone frontwoman Jasmine Wood met in a book.
“When I was 13, I read the diary of Anne Frank for the first time,” Wood says. “I immediately discovered that we were the exact same age and we had the same birthday, June 12. I read it every day after school and started to get excited about each entry, as if we were friends.... When the diary finally ended, I was a complete mess. I cried to my mom for hours and became obsessed and sad. I knew why it ended, and since it’s a diary, it just stops at the entry when she is taken by the Nazis.... In her diary, she writes ‘Dear Kitty’ to begin each entry. So I spent about three years writing in my own diary, ‘Dear Annabelle.’ Annabelle meant Anne Frank to me, even though her real name is Anne-Marie.”
Wood, who’s joined by Kaleb Shields (drums) and Thomas Hoganson (bass), found direction for Annabelle through the distorted sounds of her Marshall amp and Boss DD-6 Delay pedal. Her vocals mist over the drawling guitar noise on tracks like “Whatever,” which seems to reflect Portland’s gray, industrial skyline, while “Let’s Touch Ourselves” offers semi-sweet respite from the rest of the record’s wintery coldness.
“Everything began with the guitar,” Wood says. “I wanted heavy, distorted layers, drowned in reverb, and I wanted to use my delay pedal. The sound of my guitar exists as my voice when I am not singing. I wanted to tell stories that way. Sometimes I wouldn’t sing at all when I would write.”
That’s true on the entirely instrumental track “Star Man,” which for nearly two minutes rumbles gently like a slumbering giant. Annabelle’s title track is also sparse with words—the only line is the repeated phrase “I found a way.” It’s the album’s strongest point; the slow-building guitar melody sounds like a sunrise crawling into the sky, and with each repetition of its one line Wood’s voice yields hope and longing.
“[That line] felt like a lot of different things to me,” she says. “It can be an epiphany. It’s like you discovered something, whether it be a new perspective, or a way out, like a breakup, or death. I think the lyrics in ‘Annabelle’ are my favorite lyrics on the album, and [there are] only four words... Telling a story in just four words feels really satisfying to me.”